A variety of vehicles now fall into the crossover category spanning a range of vehicles between the SUV and the family sedan, and the crossover trend continues to advance on SUVs and on most of the other car types as well. Among the many practical reasons you might want to consider a vehicle in this growing automotive segment are gas mileage, seating, cargo room and performance.
SUVs as a category are notorious for getting poor gas mileage, and most have shown little progress toward any substantial improvements. With its lighter frame and often improved aerodynamics, the crossover has an advantage, but automakers are taking it even further. In the Ford Edge, there is an available 6th gear that maximizes fuel economy on the highway. According to Ford, it provides 7% fuel savings over a four-speed automatic. Dodge, in its Caliber, is using 2.4-liter engines which, compared to its predecessor, is 5% more fuel efficient. The Caliber also uses a continuously variable transmission to deliver better fuel economy by reducing high-revving gearshifts.
First there was the station wagon, then the minivan, then the SUV. Even though sport utility vehicles have carved a comfortable niche into the family vehicle segment, switching from an SUV to a crossover does not have to mean downsizing. Examples like the Nissan Murano, Ford Edge, Dodge Caliber, Honda CR-V, Saturn VUE, and the Toyota Venza all seat five, with some offering optional seven-passenger seating. Room for seven comes standard on models like the Mazda CX-9 and the Hyundai Santa Fe. And Mom, Dad, and all six kids can enjoy the generous eight-passenger seating of models such as the GMC Acadia.
Space is another area in which crossovers have a lot to offer. No need to cram in the groceries, sporting equipment, and luggage — there's plenty of room. Behind its second row, the cargo space of the Toyota Highlander has 42.3 cubic feet, and that increases to 95 cubic feet when the second row, and sometimes third, are folded down. The Nissan Murano offers 64 cubic feet with the seats down, and the sedan-like Toyota Venza provides 70 cubic feet for cargo when the rear seats are lowered. Some of the SUT (Sport Utility Truck) crossovers even have a drop-down rear windshield and wall which can be lowered to accommodate very lengthy or oddly shaped loads. All these numbers can sometimes be confusing, which is why it's important to look into each vehicle to see how the space is configured and to make sure the cargo areas fit your needs.
One of the more prominent features seen across the diverse spectrum of crossovers is the attention given to performance. By nature of the design, most of these vehicles offer improved handling and braking that provides a more agile feel than most SUVs. Many come standard or with optional upgrades to the engines, spoilers, sport suspension, and styling. In addition, with less of a focus on heavy cargo and towing applications, manufacturers are able to use sportier transmissions that provide a more responsive effect than that of the often slower, and louder, torque-based transmissions.
There will be trade-offs going from one type of vehicle to another. When compared to SUVs, crossovers do not provide comparable heavy-duty towing and cargo capabilities, rugged off-roading, or the ability to see over most of the other vehicles on the road. Instead they may accommodate towing only for lighter loads. Minivans will usually still have a more spacious interior, and sedans and wagons will be slightly more efficient and stable. But with the uses and demands of the average consumer's lifestyle, it is little surprise so many are gravitating to vehicles all along the SUV-to-sedan continuum.
To read more about crossovers, go to our Work & Play Lifestyle Center. Or visit our Family Focus Lifestyle Center to learn about shopping for a family vehicle. Check out our Model Info Center to see specifications, expert reviews and videos on the vehicles you are considering, and when you're ready to search for a crossover in your area, use our Find Your Car tool.
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